Marketing Your Experience
Have people assured you that your experience abroad “looks great on a resume?” They’re right!
The bad news is that potential employers or members of graduate or professional school admissions committees may lack these experiences themselves. It’s up to you to effectively communicate the skills and proficiencies that will benefit their organization and convince them of the value of your experience.
What skills or proficiencies have you acquired or enhanced while you were abroad?
Some of the skills that professionals with international experience cite as being particularly useful in their careers include:
- Enhanced cultural awareness, sensitivity to customs and cultural differences
- Foreign language proficiency
- Ability to identify and achieve goals
- General improvement in communications skills
- Increased confidence, initiative and independence
- Greater flexibility and sense of humor
- Awareness of global economic and political issues and realities
- Ability to maintain an open mind and be tolerant of others
- Clarification of goals and improved self-awareness
- General travel skills
- Resource management
- Problem solving and crisis management
- Listening and observation
- Specific professional skills or knowledge base
B.S. Illinois Institute of Technology – Mechanical Engineering 2010
INSA-Lyon, France, 2008
If the experiences included an internship, list the experiences as a professional experience rather than as an activity.
Research Assistant, NanoJapan
Tokyo, Japan, 1/08 – 5/08
Conducted research through an American-Japanese exchange program. Studied nanotechnology possibilities.
If you did a work program but the work was not particularly related to your intended profession, list it as work experience but concentrate on the cross-cultural learning.
The Black Dog Pub, Lincoln, England
Served patrons in a local bar, worked as the only American in a British business, trained co-workers in American-style customer service.
If your resume includes a section for skills or proficiencies, include specific sills acquired or improved while abroad.
What field do you intend to work in? How might your international experience uniquely benefit a professional in that field? Develop a strategy to specifically address this in your cover letter or resume.
“My experience living in Ecuador will make it possible, in this position, to communicate and interact effectively within the local Latino population.”
“My studies in Japan provided me with a great insight into the cultural differences that influence consumers in different countries and will improve my ability to contribute to international marketing initiatives.”
Even if your career goals do not include a specific international dimension at this time, you can promote the general transferable skills, such as independence, confidence, and problem solving.
If your interviewer remarks or asks about your international experience, take it as an opportunity to expand. Don’t let the opportunity pass by with a simple “Yes, it was great!”
Prepare specific examples. Did you:
Do a specific project or research applicable to your field of interest while abroad?
Learn to work with a more diverse group of people than you had previously been exposed to?
Resolve a conflict based on misunderstandings or cultural differences?
Learn new activities, languages, hobbies, or skills?
It’s professional to be courteous – and you never know who you will need in your network of references during your job hunting years!
For more help with making yourself more marketable or exploring international career opportunities, please visit the Career Management Center at www.cmc.iit.edu and check out this article from Abroad View.